[Reader-list] (Fwd) Fw:

rustam rustam at cseindia.org
Mon Jun 17 11:19:32 IST 2002

War on Peace....


------- Forwarded message follows -------
From:           	"Pervin Jehangir" <pervinj2000 at yahoo.co.uk>
To:             	"Prerana  " <preranamanu at rediffmail.com>
Subject:        	Fw:
Date sent:      	Sun, 16 Jun 2002 15:33:06 +0530
Send reply to:  	pervinj2000 at yahoo.co.uk

----- Original Message ----- 
From: anand 
To: peopletree at vsnl.com ; pjehangir at hotmail.com ; 
pooh at vsnl.com ;
fespepol at dada.it ; praful at del3.vsnl.net.in ; prafulbidwai at vsnl.com 
ptimumbai at vsnl.net.in ; raja_mohanty at hotmail.com ; 
rajdeep at ndtv.com ;
bmrrpia at cc.iitb.ac.in ; RAMAKANT at GLOBALINK.ORG ; 
ranchi at bitsmart.com
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2002 12:31 PM

Censor Board's war on "WAR AND PEACE"

Our worst fears have come true. We had suspected that the Censor
Board's delay in appointing an examining committee to officially view
our video War and Peace and the extraordinary measures taken to ban
even officially sanctioned non-commercial screenings in the interim,
were an ominous sign. We felt that contrary to norms, there was no
level playing field and far from being in the hands of objective
government officials, we were up against a very interested party with
a strong political agenda.

War and Peace had won the Best Film/Video of the Festival at the
Mumbai International Film Festival,  and the Films Division of India
(which comes under the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting)
attempted to show it along with other award winning films at their
festival in Kolkata. The Regional Officer of the Censor Board in
Mumbai boasted to us that he would stop the Kolkata screening. The
next day while other films which had no censor clearance were shown,
the inaugural film War and Peace was withdrawn. The Kolkata press was
duly told that the "film had not arrived" despite the fact that we had
a receipt to prove the contrary.  

The examining committee of the Censor Board finally saw the film on 6
June. After the screening though I was present, I was informed that
contrary to norms, the committee members would not discuss anything
with me as they could not reach consensus. The following week the
final outcome was given to me in writing. It makes remarkable reading.
The cuts demanded are unprecedented and the methodical, single-minded
approach is inconsistent with that of a group that could not reach

Cut No.1 sounds reasonable. It is: "Delete the visuals of burning
Indian flag". This scene depicting Pakistani jingoism balances
sequences of Indian jingoism. But obviously the Censor Board has no
objection to scenes showing the burning Pakistani flag. "War and
Peace" consistently exposes war-mongers and applauds peace lovers on
both sides of the border. This is clearly not something the Censor

Cut No. 2 "Delete the entire sequence with visuals and dialogues
spoken by the Dalit leader" refers to a sequence in which a Dalit
neo-Buddhist argues that it is a travesty that nuclear tests were
carried out on Buddha's birthday and that the Buddha's name was used
as a military code to mark the tests despite the fact that the Buddha
has always been unarmed.

Cut No. 3 is a demand to cut a Dalit song which describes the killing
of Mahatma Gandhi by a Brahmin. So now the Censor feels bold enough to
muzzle the voices of those whom our caste system oppressed for
centuries, even when they merely make factual statements ! 

Cut No.4 is an order to cut a sentence by a leading scientist that
"China is our next possible enemy". This common justification for our
nuclear weapons was endlessly repeated in the media by our politicians
including most famously, by our Defense Minister.

Cut No.5 is a predictable though thoroughly unjustifiable demand:
"Delete the visuals and dialogues of entire Tehelka episode wherever
it occurs in the film."  Over 4 hours of these Tehelka tapes showing
hidden camera footage of corrupt arms deals were broadcast nationally
at prime time. The tiny extracts I used are a mere reference to what
the public saw at length on almost every channel.  Again, the Censor
Board's bias is clear. Tehelka is not allowable because it depicts
members of the ruling coalition, but my reference to the Bofors arms
scandal is deemed OK as it indicts the Opposition !

Cut No.6 is the clincher. Under the heading GENERAL is the amazing
diktat: "Delete the entire visuals and dialogues spoken by Political
Leaders including Minister and Prime Minister." The censor board has
deemed it unnecessary to pinpoint exactly which leader's visuals and
dialogues they disliked so much that the public should be protected by
suitable deletions. The heading GENERAL applies to all. The Censor
Board deems it illegal to report the speeches of Ministers, Prime
Ministers and all Political Leaders. Do we have a new Secrecy Act?
Should Messrs Vajpayee, etc wear a mask from now on, and speak only in
code? Or should only those who elevate every word of politicians into
gospel and visualize these politicians only when they are the
politician's wearing halos, be allowed to film ?

War and Peace begins and ends with the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi.
(Perhaps this too is now illegal as it could come under the Cut No.6
dispensation). Focusing on the danger of nuclear war in the Indian
subcontinent the video goes on to describe the problems faced by
people living near nuclear testing and mining sites, the horror of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the culpability of the USA in using Atom bombs
on a nation that was about to surrender, the globalization of the arms
trade, but most of all it derives its power and emotional appeal from
the growing movement for peace both in India and in Pakistan.
Unfortunately in both countries there is an invisible force that does
not want peace, a force that has come to power precisely by spreading
divisiveness within the country and the sustained threat of war
outside it. This force has cynically used concepts of religion and
patriotism to hide its own hate-corrupted psyche and has sought to
muzzle the voices of all those who speak out for health, harmony and

So it will not be enough to demand merely that films like "War and
Peace" be passed without cuts. Officials of the Censor Board must be
made to understand that their brief cannot be to wield their scissors
in the interests of particular ideologies. We must demand that the
Censor Board and all the vital institutions in our country be freed
from the undemocratic grip of "the invisible force".

Anand Patwardhan  14 June 2002

------- End of forwarded message -------

            TELE:        608 1110, 608 1124  
                         608 3394, 608 6399  
            FAX :        91-11-608 5879                      
            VISIT US AT: http://www.cseindia.org

                Email: rustam at cseindia.org

More information about the reader-list mailing list